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republican council CandidatEs

Justin Smith &

Jasmine Grey

1). What is your opinion on the potential redevelopment projects as listed on the
Borough website?

We are opposed to overdevelopment but believe that redeveloping areas responsibly
that are in need is crucial to the surrounding area and growth of the overall community.
Currently, redevelopment is sweeping the state with many taking to social media to
document their opposition to massive plans taking place in their backyards. With that
being said, we have extensively researched redevelopment and potential outcomes that
could adversely affect residents. There are several factors to take into consideration
when deciding whether to approve these projects such as the impact to schools,
infrastructure, quality of life, and if residents will experience financial burdens with
attracting and increasing the population with these high density developments.
Of the projects listed on the Borough’s website, most agree Agnew Place was an area
in need of redevelopment. With discussions taking place over the years it was expected,
however, many felt blindsided to learn how quickly and quietly a plan of this height and
scale had progressed without anyone knowing. As for the other potential projects, we do
have some concerns. If we were looking at just one or two plans that were proposed
then it is not alarming however, when you take into consideration all of the plans
currently being discussed, along with those in the immediate surrounding area that lie in
neighboring municipalities that could also impact the quality of life for those in such
close proximity, along with a lack of preventative measures in Rutherford’s Master Plan
to protect private property owners then one should raise serious concerns. There is no
set number, standard, or guideline stated in this Master Plan that clearly defines a
requirement, fulfillment, or end to these developments. What is mentioned is that one
challenge Rutherford currently is facing, is that less than 1% of Rutherford’s land is
available for use to serve future populations and therefore it is crucial to find areas in
need of redevelopment to address this. What if no areas needed to be redeveloped?
Will we see an increase with eminent domain cases or changes with codes,
enforcement, and/or regulations? The most recent amended COAH laws base their
needs on “projected future populations” and therefore we may not see an end anytime
soon.
Many are unaware of the process in which redevelopment occurs and strict guidelines
which include unassuming terms such as “smart growth” which we’ve been hearing
lately, tax incentives, PILOT programs and how funds are allocated, and the role of
municipalities in deciding on redevelopment plans. At the moment, municipalities have
the power to approve or disapprove redevelopment proposals and that could very well
change. With so much happening at a rapid pace and especially because we have quite
a few projects slated ahead, we should have a resident run forum or committee that
focus to stay informed with experts on the Planning Board by discussing possible
projects, changes to laws and/or regulations, and be the voice of the those who cannot
make the meetings when discussing whether these projects would be a good fit for the

community as a whole. It’s always great to have members working together towards a
common goal however, to do so because of a lack of transparency is very concerning.
Facilitating community engagement to discuss options best for all when it comes to
redevelopment will not only strengthen community pride, relationships, and our
foundation as a whole, but will also act as a preventative measure to ensure that all
decision are made ethically.

2). What do you hope can be included in the new county park that will be created where
the current Highline is along Erie Ave in Rutherford?


We would love to see this park work as a self-sustaining natural eco-system that
inspires to connect the different local elements that include the history and culture of the
surrounding area. Rutherford has rich roots and unless we find innovative ways to
preserve it and serve it, it may soon all be forgotten. Many may not be aware that the
area was once filled with industry that included a lake or how the railway drastically
changed the landscape of Rutherford while also making sure to pay homage to some of
Rutherford’s most well-known residents. We feel it is important to keep Rutherford’s
legacy alive and no better way than to incorporate it into areas where it will be seen.
Many have also stated a lack of arts and demanded to address this need which we
strongly agree with. The Highline in NYC, incorporated art throughout every aspect and
invokes awe and inspiration to many who visit. Currently, graffiti is seen along the track
showing that there might be potential artists in the area who need an outlet that doesn’t
include defacing public property. While the Fab Five and Five Points are distant
memories, this art form has really grown over time and evident in galleries and
community murals that decorate streets and storefronts throughout the nation. Providing
robust options for various artistic skills and capabilities not only allow one to explore
different avenues but also to allow a creative outlet to form by providing an appropriate,
consistent, and safe space for individuals to flourish. Options to add elements are
endless especially if enlisting local artists or the Arts Council to work on finding creative
use of spaces or utilizing areas to showcase artistic talents. One example of this is the
utility box project where many towns took advantage of a grant that paid for supplies.
Communities were encouraged to bring awareness to the arts while turning utility boxes
into a work of art. In addition to the arts, we also want to promote ways that bring
awareness to environmental issues and perhaps the Green Team could get involved as
well with finding creative ways to reuse discarded or unwanted items that are found or
donated. Not only would it keep them out of our landfill but also serve as a cost-effective
way to obtain materials for sculptures or functional use like seating. It’s amazing to see
the trash transforming into works of “green” art or getting a second chance to serve a
functional use. Having an art walk like Paterson’s art district, is also another wonderful
way to bring our community together. There is so much potential especially with
untapped resources that could fuel many projects that could strengthen arts
programming, environmental activism, preservation, etc. What we hope to really see is

a park serving an unmet need while protecting the beauty of the surrounding nature and
will preserve local history and inspire all who come to tap into their own imagination and
creativity.

Other ideas to fulfill needs not yet met in Rutherford is a dog park or dog run. This has
been mentioned by residents throughout the years and most recently in discussions
pertaining to Agnew in Facebook groups. We agree and having dogs ourselves, it
should also be one with separate sections for bigger and smaller dogs. Also, recently
along the track, a ramp constructed out of plywood and was in use by a group of young
teens on bikes and skateboards. Even as we were growing up, there was a pit by Union
Ave that was used to create bike trails. Where there’s a will, there’s a way however
these structures certainly weren’t safe, but they do highlight a longstanding need that is
way overdue to be met. We love seeing children spending time outdoors and growing
up here, that is exactly how we spent our days.

3). There are quite a few new businesses that have either recently opened or will open
soon.  How do you feel the Mayor and Council can help support and promote these new
businesses?


It is tough to have a small business, especially one starting during this time of crisis. It is
also tough for small business owners to stay in business in Rutherford. We feel that first
and foremost, there should be a line of continuous and routine communication between
business owners and the Mayor and Council whether online or a that meets. We’re all in
this together and therefore should be working collaboratively to help revitalize our
Downtown District by address common issues many face when trying to maintain a
business here. Many have stated that Park Ave has gone through continuous cycles of
empty store fronts with a revolving door of businesses coming and going. We wonder
why and feel that working routinely and collaboratively with business owners, we can
better pinpoint issues and the solutions needed. Questions we would like to ask, what
worked for some businesses and not others? Is there a pattern associated with times
when business is optimal? What are is the biggest concerns for businesses?
We often hear firsthand along with our own personal experiences some of the issues we
feel can be easily addressed. For starters, many business owners as well as customers
have mentioned parking to be a major issue for shoppers. Now that outdoor dining has
taken up part of the already limited parking spaces, something should be done to
address parking needs now and afterwards for when the state fully reopens. We like
the idea of offering free parking during the holidays and feel that perhaps we could find
more opportunities to use this concept to boost sales with foot traffic. We also have a
portion of parking spots reserved for certain employees, organizations, and/or days,
perhaps we could find ways to expand parking by including these spaces when they are
not being used.

We can also support businesses by "Spot Lighting" on various platforms. Social media
is a great tool however not all use it. Using different platforms to promote businesses
and their specials on a routine basis may help to bring in sales at no cost to them or the
Borough especially if businesses are constructing their own content to be shared by the
Borough via email, text, website, and social media. It would also show small business
owners that their elected officials are appreciative of their choice to open a business
here in Rutherford and are committed to supporting their growth and are making efforts
to revitalize Rutherford's Downtown District rather than redevelop it.

Lastly, we would propose to work closely with the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce in
finding innovative ways to improve our business districts. We request creating a liaison
position to the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce and would like to take on that
position. This would forge and build an open line of communication that works to
address the needs of business owners so that they may flourish and attract more to visit
Rutherford for their retail and dining needs. Sadly, this was a suggestion made in 2018
however, some current members of the Council did not approve it and we are curious
as to why since it seems that no other action since has been taken in its place.


4). What initiative do you envision implementing if elected that can bring in revenue
streams to our town? 

While bringing in a revenue stream is important, so is ensuring that our Borough isn’t
spending money that it could be saving. As we examined the budget as well as where
and what our Borough was spending on, we noticed certain patterns of spending and
projects we felt were unnecessary especially during an economic downfall. We question
whether other cost-effective avenues were even considered and if decisions were made
ethically. In the past, Rutherford spent close to a one million dollars on a much-needed
playground while other municipalities spent only $150K after utilizing grants. Why
weren’t grants used for this project? We also realized certain contractors were hired and
questioned many invoices and expenses we came across. For example, one person
teaching a wreath making class via ZOOM for 45 min classes billed for 2-hour classes
for each 45 minute class which seemed excessive for a class being taught remotely If
anything it should have saved money by eliminating the need for prep and clean up if
taught in-person. Another person billed over $3000 to insert a COVID message and link
on the Borough website. However, most shocking was that the Borough spent about
$34,000.00 on shirts for the REC Dept over a period of 2 years. This company is also
used for many fundraisers held in our schools and lists the spouse of a current
candidate on its website. The same candidate also recently mentioned this individual
was “his go-to” and recently worked on a joint venture producing key chains.
Separately, each event may not seem alarming however, when we continuously find
concerning and questionable invoices and expenses that keep adding up, it winds up to
become a huge financial dent. We will work to ensure that spending is done responsibly
and with transparency because we feel that contracting the same individuals for a
number of services who then bill for amounts we cannot in good faith justify, and/or has
close relationships or ties is highly unethical to say the least.

We also want to question whether certain projects are truly needed especially during
uncertain times when many may be faced with financial burdens. If so, were grants also
researched and applied for? We feel not much effort is spent by current members of the
Council to find alternative ways that could help cover the costs of certain projects
acquiring grants, federal funding, and/or organizations looking to donate or pay for
projects that meet certain requirements or needs within the community. We were also
inspired by the community efforts used in the construction of the snack stand at Tryon
Field. An entire brand-new structure was built to address the need for bathrooms and a
kitchen which cost around $75,000.00 because so many community members pitched
in to volunteer their time and/or services. We hope to enlist similar efforts and strategies
for future projects. When you compare the cost of this completely new structure to
others costing about half a million dollars for renovation of an already existing structure,
we wonder if other cost-effective avenues were even considered. The renovations were
needed however, were cost effective ways utilized for this project?
As you can imagine increasing revenue streams without being a burden to residents
can be a difficult process however, if the governing body starts living within its means as
we do in our own households without resulting in unnecessary spending we will begin to
see an increase on the revenue side of our finances. It all comes down to being
financially responsible.

5). What do you envision Rutherford's Downtown looking like 10 years from now, and how would you accomplish that?


Ten years from now we hope to see a vibrant and lively Downtown District. Williams
Center will be completely restored to showcase the Rivoli’s glory days of vaudeville
when it first opened in 1922. The Williams Center will serve as the community hubbub
while providing much needed resources like a strong arts program complete with
performing arts, concert venue, and a cultural platform for all to enjoy. This revival of the
WC will also revive and revitalize our Downtown District by attracting many to come
here for dinner and a show. Parking will be plenty and Park Ave will resemble the days
when it was filled with restaurants and diners spilling onto sidewalks while impatiently
waiting to be seated as they admire all the charm Park Ave has to offer.
Accomplishing this is can be achievable if members across the board work actively and
collaboratively towards an agreed upon goal. Especially in the case of the William
Center to which a liquor license is not mandatory in order to save it. We repeat…A
LIQUOR LICENSE IS NOT MANDATORY TO SAVE THE WC! While it may help to
boost revenue, a bill passed earlier this year focused to aid struggling theaters like WC.
Recently we saw many argue and debate over the issue of needing a liquor license and
learned that Governor Murphy passed a bill in February to allowing theaters to sell
alcoholic beverages for two hours prior and two hours after a show. The WC can also

purchase a limited amount of one time use permits for events that allow continuous sale
throughout the event. We also want to state that the argument to remain a “dry” town
has always been a long-standing hotly debate topic and makes us wonder what made
this sudden push to be voted on especially being that it is also non-binding. Anyways,
next is to ensure that everyone is on the same page with their facts, figures, and options
because as we discovered, there was a lot of misinformation making the rounds. This
should be done as soon as possible because time is of the essence with WC making its
way to auction soon. We are trying to figure how best to do this and are working on
coordinating with those who know WC best. We looked into so many avenues such as a
public/private partnership, grants, historical preservation, tax incentives, etc as well
researched continuously on what others have done to save historical theaters, how
NYC was addressing the downfall of their theater district, etc. and lastly made so many
calls with some lasting over 3.5 hours to gather information, discuss funding, address
ideas, all while also taking wild guesses in between on why anyone would ever want to
destroy this landmark piece of Rutherford history??? It really boils down to finding a
private investor or developer with a love for theater and the arts who will work to fully
restore the theater, find tax incentives, preserve it, and protect it by adding stipulations
that would prevent others from destroying it in the future. No public entity wants to take
this on especially with needing work which would also add a financial burden to the
Borough. Plan renderings have already circulated with only a very small portion of the
theater component shown as being salvaged with seating to accommodate…only 150
people. Therefore, we have arrived to what could possibly be the last act…unless we
act quickly to utilize all our resources in this last hurrah. Things that can be done
immediately are to go to the movies to help raise revenue and spread the word which
hopefully reaches the right ears and will attract either a private developer or investor
who falls in love with the WC like so many do. One last thing, we also investigated
different ways to tackle one of Rutherford’s major issue which is that of parking. If
elected, we will examine ways to upgrade our parking garage by utilizing permit parking
and smart meters while continuing to look for innovative ways to expand and increase
parking spots towards accommodating this desperate need.

Again, we apologize for the late submission, we were recently walloped with some
unfortunate events. We hope that you do take the chance to get to know us and know
that party affiliation doesn’t hold much weight at a local level. What does hold weight is
electing someone who’ll work to do what is best for all while also acting as the
community’s voice. Last year, many did not believe Agnew could progress quickly and
quietly without anyone knowing and therefore let’s make sure not to make that same
mistake again by re-electing the same people who not only kept details and
developments surrounding Agnew from the public like failing to mention it was voted on
in April 2019. Let’s also remember those on our Council who kept voting in favor for
plans which received so much public outcry and back lash and those who made it quite
clear with their stonewalled silence where they stood.

At the end of the day you have two lifelong residents just looking to maintain our
hometown while also trying to save our suburb from being overdeveloped. With quite a
few projects about to come down the pipeline, we need checks and balances. This can
only be accomplished by electing those who do not have any affiliation with those voting
in favor for projects not favored by residents. The fact that we are losing one of two
voices who voted in favor for the people they serve over politics and is evident when
reviewing meetings, makes this election one to truly consider what your vision is for
Rutherford so that we do not again find ourselves here again one year later, one new
group, and well over 1600+ signatures…fighting off another 8-story development. We
also hope that those who are more concerned about party affiliation than our policies
reconsider getting to get to know us.
Stay Safe & Stay Well